Thursday, July 31, 2008

On Loving and Golf

My We Love Golf review is up, and despite me describing the controls as the absolute worst video game golf controls ever when I first started playing it, I actually ended up like the game a fair amount. Ok, so when I derided the controls, it was because I wasn't using them correctly due to me being an idiot, but at least I didn't then include my initial impressions in the review. It's not that the controls are unintuitive, it's that I'm stupid and I attempted to play a motion assisted golf game while sitting on my fat ass. It did not go well. Once I stood up, things went much, much better.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Typical Evening

Monday night I punched myself in the face while trying to fix my exercise bike. Anyone who knows me, knows that this is not atypical for me. After all, I am the man who bowled a hole in his basement wall. The face punching was not intentional, nor was the wall bowling for that matter, but it did happen. There was a very stubborn bolt, my very earnest effort, and a socket wrench that, when forced upon by my earnest effort, slipped off of the stubborn bolt and, clad in my hand, struck my right cheekbone.

It was both humbling and enraging at the same time. Mostly it was just unpleasant.

Why was I fixing my own exercise bike, despite it still being under warranty? Well, because when I called Kelley at Schwinn, to tell her of my squealing, banshee infested bike, she said that she'd send me some new bearings and then talk me through the installation over the phone. Troubleshooting, she called it. Fixing my own damn bike, I called it.

When the parts came, complete with a 12 pound box of 419 ball bearings that was supposed to go to an auto parts place in Marietta, I was surprised to see not just bearings, but a giant wheel, another wheel thingy, some more bolts, a lemur, seventeen midgets and a Grecian urn. It was a very large box.

In the 40 minutes that I was on hold before talking to Connie, I managed to get the entire exercise bike apart, cranks and all. I then spent something like five minutes trying to not say "crank" while on the phone with Connie, and instead managed to say "crank" something like thirteen hojillion times. I hope that Connie knew that I meant the bike cranks and that I wasn't spending the previous 40 minutes engaging in onanism. I was pretty pissed, which isn't usually the state of mind of someone who just spent almost an hour pleasuring himself, so I'm sure Connie knew what I meant.

After explaining to Connie that I couldn't get the crank shaft assembly bolts undone, the very bolts that caused my face punching, she then put me back on hold. I managed to get one bolt undone, then, when using the wrench to stabilize the big wheel that the crank shaft assembly was attached to, I managed to move the wheel which in turn made the wrench slip which then hit a wire, breaking it in the process.


At this point, I was pretty pissed, and I let Connie know this. I explained to her that I didn't understand why I was fixing the bike. She told me that if I had the parts, it's probably because I wanted to do the work myself, rather than wait for a technician. I told her that Kelley with an "e" never mentioned any fucking technician. Ok, I didn't swear. Well, not in that sentence anyway. Connie was very sorry after hearing this, and promptly put in an order for a technician and a new motor. Luckily, I don't have to pay for the motor, partially because it was broken during a repair process that was undertaken by myself when I hadn't been told that someone else could do it and partially because I didn't tell Connie that I was the one who broke said motor.

Again I say, whoopsie.

I'm not sure when the technician will be here, or when the motor will be here, but the bike is in pieces and wouldn't work even if I were to put it back together. Bottom line is that I have to figure out an exercise alternative for the near future. Tuesday morning I got up and walked the neighborhood. It was unpleasant what with all of the humidity and my near complete dislike of the outdoors. I could work out at work, but that's kind of a pain. I could also work out with Wii Fit but I'd spend most of my time in the menus. I don't know. I'm sure I'll think of something. Or I won't and instead will just gain weight. Either way, something will happen. Of that I'm certain.

Well, mostly certain.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Weekly Weigh In: Week 9

A week of little progress, but progress nonetheless as I stand at a svelte 177 lbs. No change in the waistline, however with only a pound of loss, there are certainly plenty of places for the fat to come from.

This week I watched American Gangster which was good, however it ended way too quickly. The movie was basically 2.5 hours of the rise of Frank Lucas and then like 10 minutes of his fall. Ok, so I'm sure the proportions are a bit off, but that's what it felt like. The other thing that bugged me was that there was a scene with Cuba Gooding Jr. where he gets confronted by Denzel Washington (as Frank Lucas) for taking Denzel's premium Heroin, cutting it and then selling it under the same brand name. Much yelling on the part of Cuba ensues and Frank leaves. I fully expected him to show up dead somewhere but he never did. In fact, you never see him again, at least I didn't. Maybe something happened in the brief span of time it takes for me to look down and see my heart rate. It's not entirely impossible. The movie was very well acted, so I didn't mind these small story problems but your mileage may vary.

As my exercise bike is somewhat busted and sounds like there's a banshee trapped inside of it, I then switched over to Hard Boiled figuring that if I'm going to be reading a movie any way (subtitles are a must over the din of the bike), I might as well read one of the greats. I hadn't seen this movie in quite some time, and having recently played Stranglehold, the video game sequel of sorts, it was cool to see all of the things in Hard Boiled that I had just seen in Stranglehold. That and things blew up real good.

The bike's repair kit arrived today, meaning that I'll be on the phone with Schwinn customer service tonight in an attempt to fix it, or as Schwinn would say "troubleshoot" it, so hopefully tomorrow morning I'll have a quieter ride and a movie that doesn't require subtitles. If I don't get around to fixing the bike, or if the kit doesn't fix it, I don't know what I'll watch. Truly these are the questions that weigh heavy on a man's soul.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Out Again

Once again, the call of live music has pulled me out of my hidey hole.
Tonight I'm taking in Mr. Butch Walker, one of my favorite artists.
As Butch is from nearby Cartersville, gigs in Atlanta tend to bring
out the best in him. Hopefully, tonight will be no exception. For
now though, it's all anticipation and people watching. Good times.

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Disparate Elements

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Riddle Time!

Question: When is an E3 preview not an E3 preview?

Answer: When it's my preview of N+ for the PSP, conveniently posted today.

Simple, right? Ha. No. See, I played N+ and wrote the preview while E3 was going on, but I didn't do so at E3 on account of my E3 absence. The presentation of my preview at GameShark makes it look like I was at E3 which is kind of strange, but in the end, it doesn't really matter. What matters is that I played the game, which I did. In fact, me not being at E3 probably means that I was able to spend more time with the game as they up and sent us a preview build, two copies to be exact, so I was able to spend as much time with it as I needed, rather than spend whatever time allotment they dole out at these conventions.

It being my first preview, I think I did alright. Nothing spectacular. I tried to stick to the "write what you see" mode of preview writing so as to not load the thing up with bullshit, and to that effect I think I succeeded. It's harder than it looks. For example, the game has co-op, but I only have one PSP, so I couldn't play the co-op mode, but I did see that they had several modes. In that situation, do you mention co-op? On the one hand, it has it, and you can see it, so you can mention it, on the other hand, it could be horribly broken in the retail release to the point where saying it has co-op is a lie because co-op doesn't work. In the end, I decided to elaborate on the things I witnessed with mine own eyes, and mention in passing everything else.

For the record, I did, in fact, download a custom map. A nice one too. It had rocket ships.

Not being able to inject my opinion made it a bit harder too. Again, sticking to the "write what you see" kind of mode, I tried to just give the facts and let the reader decide if the game was something they should be interested in. It's tough, I mean, it's not the final version, so everything could change completely, bad to good or vice versa. In subsequent previews, I'll try and do better to strike the right tone between honest commentary and cautious optimism. Given that I'm pessimistic about pretty much everything, even cautious optimism will be a stretch for me.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Stupid hurricane.

I can only assume that Dolly is the reason that my broken 360 is currently sitting in some UPS depot some place. The tracking information says that my 360 can't proceed further due to inclement weather. I find this odd for a number of reasons. One, the tracking information states that my 360 is in Mesquite, Texas, which is where it's being delivered to. Two, today it was sunny and like a hundred degrees in Mesquite, so unless the inclement weather was extreme sunniness, I don't know what the problem is.

I can only assume that the information as to where my package actually is, is wrong and it's some place being affected by the hurricane. I hope not as I don't want my 360 being swept out to sea although I'm sure all of the marine life in the Gulf of Mexico would enjoy it. Perhaps they could make a nice coral mini-reef out of it.

Hopefully they'll be able to deliver it soon as Too Human drops in the middle of August and I need a working console to review it. Luckily, I have options for obtaining another console for review purposes, so my opinion will be heard by all on the matter of Too Human. This voice can not be stifled! Not by hurricanes! Not by extreme sunniness! Not by coral mini-reefs!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Weekly Weigh In: Week 8

This weekend saw the return of glorious progress in the quest to lose weight. I'm down to 178 and a 37 inch waist. Whee! I haven't seen a weight in the 170's for a couple of years now so I'm quite excited. I was also glad to see that my week of no progress wasn't repeated as I wasn't relishing the thought of trying to figure out ways to mix things up. I'm now three pounds from my weight goal of 175 however unless that loss of three pounds comes with a couple of inches off of the waistline, I will most likely continue dieting until my gut is a little smaller.

This was a high point in what can be described as a very uneven weekend. Friday night I set about seeing if playing bass in Rock Band on Hard is hard (it is) and all I got for my trouble was a busted Xbox. Luckily it wasn't the dreaded red rings of death, just a general hardware failure, but the end result was the same, namely I had to pack up the 360 and send it to Texas where it'll sit for two to three weeks. I have other systems on which to play games, which is good, however I was looking forward to putting the nail in GTA IV's coffin. Guess those stunt jumps and pigeons will have to wait a bit longer. In the mean time I'm playing God of War II which is OK and soon will have to start reviewing We Love Golf.

Saturday was the weigh in, so yay for that, but then Saturday night my daughter's high temperature from earlier in the week reared it's ugly head putting the plans of seeing The Dark Knight on Sunday in jeopardy. My reaction to this piece of bad news was to not sleep well for the rest of the night until 5:50 when the stupid carbon monoxide detector started chirping every 30 seconds to tell us that the battery was going. Shortly afterwards the dog decided to smear poop all over the carpeting necessitating an ass bath for him and a cleaning of the carpet, and this was all before the kids woke up. As callous as this sounds, I honestly can't wait for that fucking dog to die. He has ceased to bring anything to the table but shit stains and odd growths on his back. My wife still enjoys his company for some odd reason, but I guess it bodes well for my body's eventual slide into disrepair.

Luckily come Sunday morning my daughter was doing well so we headed out to buy Ben some school supplies and my insistence what we go to a different, rarely tread Walmart was rewarded with the Animated version of Jazz, the only figure I had yet to purchase. Double whee! He is much smaller in vehicle mode than I imagined and his transformation is very straightforward but he's Jazz and he comes with nunchuks, so I don't care.

Sunday night Linda and I went out to dinner and saw The Dark Knight and I have to say that every review I've read of it was spot on. I was concerned going into it that it wouldn't live up to the hype, or that I'd seen everything in the trailer, but this movie was so different from what I thought it was going to be, that it was like never seeing a frame of film before sitting down and watching it. Rather than rehash what I'm sure you've read elsewhere, I'll just say that it was brutal and harrowing and like being kicked in the stomach for three hours, but in a good way.

Today is similarly uneven as a trip to Target yielded a new Universe 2.0 Transformer, but our medical insurance company has denied the claim for Abby's therapy sessions because insurance companies were spawned in the pits of hell and are staffed by demons with shit spewing cocks for brains. Apparently they'd rather we stick a tube in her stomach and feed her that way than pay for some therapy sessions, because that makes perfect sense. I hope they all die. Did you get that, warrantless eavesdropping fuckwits?


Friday, July 18, 2008

Teh Absence

Oh, how the week flies by when you don't actually write anything!

Not sure why I didn't post this week. I just...didn't. Not that anyone cares, but hey, why should people stick around if I'm not here? Why indeed. I'm feeling a bunch of writing malaise of late including with my GameShark stuff. I managed to pound out reviews of Hellboy for the PSP and Carnival Games for the DS (both sucked) but now I'm facing the task of writing a preview of N+ for the PSP. I also need to get off of my ass and work on this top ten list I've been kicking around for like a month now. Me so lazy!

On to various bits.

I finally finished everything but shooting all of the pigeons and hitting all of the stunt jumps in GTA IV. I was quite satisfied with the ending of the game. The final mission was a bit of a pain, what with no ability to save mid-mission, but it had a nice balance. You drove, you shot, you ran, you biked, you flew a helicopter. It had thrills and chills. The story ended on a nice downer too which I felt appropriate. I mean, Niko Bellic is not a nice guy and while he may have done some things for good reasons, he was a violent killer all the same, so things shouldn't end on a happy, high note. You play with fire, you're going to get burned. Still, it was an odd choice, as at the end of the game, Niko basically states that none of what he did was worth it which usually isn't how you want people to feel after they've sunk dozens of hours into your game. Personally, I loved it as I think the world is shit, so I'm all for someone expressing those thoughts.

I know that some fans of earlier games lamented the lack of true, free roaming destruction that was present in earlier games, but for someone like myself who is paralyzed by so much choice, I felt that the structure was just what I needed to truly enjoy the game. Now all I need is to roll my car five times in one jump, kill all the pigeons and hit all of the stunt jumps and I'll be all done until the DLC comes out. Whee!

Linda and I watched Batman: Gotham Knight and while I loved the animation, I wasn't thrilled with using Kevin Conroy as the voice of Batman. Conroy voiced Batman in the animated series back in the 90's as well as in the JLA cartoon and the Justice League Unlimited cartoon, so it certainly makes sense for him to be the voice, however these stories are set in the Batman Begins universe, so I found the mix of the old and the new somewhat jarring. Granted, that mixture is probably exactly what they were going for, but as a fan of the comics, I've learned to keep all of the various comic property universes separate and in this case, I don't want no animated chocolate in my big screen peanut butter.

In other Batman news, Linda and I are going to see The Dark Knight on Sunday. We are both very excited as we're also going to eat copious amounts of pizza and when we get home, the children will be snug in their beds. Babysitters rule.

Let's see, what else, what else. Oh, Psych season 2 came out on DVD and man if this still ain't one of the funniest shows out there. Those two kill me.

Finally, save for one figure, I have all of the Transformers: Animated figures that are currently out at retail and I love each and every one of them. They're all so clean and big jawed, unlike the spiky movie figures, and with the exception of Bumblebee, they're all very fun to transform and pose. Me likey. I picked up some of the new Classics figures too, and they're fun as well, but I'm really digging on the animated line right now.

Well, I think that's about as much boring minutia of my trivial and sleep inducing life that I think I can come up with. I'm sure you're looking forward to more regular posts of this stellar caliber. I know I am.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Weekly Weigh In: Week 7

Sorry for the lack of posts last week, but I swear that every day either I or Linda was bringing the dog to the vet for some multi-hundred dollar procedure to see what's wrong with him. After the ultrasound on Friday ($250), he's back to being like his old self, so apparently all that was required to fix his problem was about a thousand dollars of tests and medications. It was a stressful week, so I didn't feel like posting.

This week I didn't lose anything, which was to be expected after the four day eat-a-thon that was the 4th of July weekend. I also ate a metric ton of food on Friday as work paid for it, so that certainly didn't help the weigh-in on Saturday. The official number was 180.5, which represents an actual step backwards of half a pound. Oh well. This week I'm back to the diet and working out, so hopefully I'll see some weight loss on Saturday.

This past weekend I saw Hellboy 2: The Golden Army and it was quite the kick-ass movie. Very well done with lots of action, lots of humor and some incredibly creative creature design on display. Everything that was there to like in the first one was in this one, only more so. Three awesome comic book movies in one summer before The Dark Knight drops? Surely the apocalypse is upon is. Linda and I managed to get a babysitter for this weekend, so we'll be rocking The Dark Knight date night style. I'm super excited. That movie is going to kick ass.

Speaking of excited, the Rock Band 2 track list was released today and man, September can't get here fast enough. The Replacements, Jimmy Eat World, Fleetwood Mac, Silversun Pickups, Modest Mouse, Billy Idol, Duran Duran, the list goes on and on to the tune of 75 master tracks with 20 more downloadable once the game launches and the ability to import most of the songs from the original Rock Band disc. Guitar Hero IV on the other hand, gets the Eagles and Van Halen as exclusive bands. Wow. That's so, what's the word? Oh yes. Boring. There were other things released today at Microsoft's press conference like strange singing games about lips, and the ability to stream Netflix movies to your 360, and something about the next Final Fantasy game being on the 360 as well as the PS3, but I could give a shit about any of that stuff. Rock Band pretty much rules my world at the moment and that track list is the shit.

The. Shit.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Weekly Weigh In: Week 6

Not a lot of movement this week as I weighed in at a whopping 180 lbs, a whole half a pound less than last week. I did lose about half an inch off of the waistline though, so that's good and my body fat percentage is 20.5% which is a good 5% less than when I started. I weighed myself early this week and didn't do any Wii Fit all week so I'm sure all of those things accounted for less loss. That and it's just what my body decided to do this week.

I started watching This is Spinal Tap as I needed something that I could get through in two days as the final season of The Batman comes out on Tuesday and I want to start watching it on Wednesday. Spinal Tap is just as hilarious as I remembered it to be. The "mime is money" line always kills me.

Linda and I went and saw Wanted today and man, that was one kick ass action movie. I had read a review that said that if you had read the comic, the movie doesn't work, a statement I disagree with 100%. There's no way that the comic would have worked on screen without looking ridiculous. I mean, one of the characters is a guy made of shit. Come on. The movie reminded me of Running Scared, the Paul Walker movie, not the Billy Crystal movie, in that it was incredibly violent, and once the action started, it just kept going. Angelina Jolie looked amazing, which certainly didn't hurt. If you like action movies, with tons of kick ass stunts and bloody violence, it's not a bad way to spend two hours.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

What a fantastically awesome 4th of July I've had!

First, based on some tips from people on the boards, we headed to the Target in Buckhead to see if I could score some elusive Wave 3 Transformers: Animated deluxe figures. For our efforts I was rewarded with Oil Slick, Soundwave and Snarl. Alas, Jazz was AWOL, and despite the price scanner stating that there were more figures in the back, a call to the back room brought news that all of the figures were out. I find this hard to believe, but what choice did I have but to believe them?

After that, we headed to the nearby Walmart to look for a bed for Ben and while we didn't find a bed, I did find one of every Marvel Transformer! Score! I completely cleaned out the store, buying Spider-Man, Hulk, Iron Man and Venom for myself and a Spider-Man for Ben. As much as a callous bastard as I make myself out to be, when presented with the opportunity to teach my son about the joys of robot superheroes that turn into motorcycles, I don't back down.

After all of the retail excitement, we headed home and I grilled up some peppers, onions and spicy Italian sausage for dinner. The sandwiches, along with Linda's kick ass macaroni salad made for quite the tasty meal.

Now there's nothing left but to sit back and watch the dogs shit themselves in fear from the inevitable fireworks. Can't wait!

Here's hoping that your 4th of July is a good one. Enjoy the weekend.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

My Afternoon Itinerary

Here's the schedule of my afternoon today, to give you an idea of how we roll at Hyphen Ridge.

3:30 - Get a call from Linda telling me that the dog shat all over the house.
3:35 - Get a call from Linda telling me that the dog also threw up all over the house.
3:40 - Get a call from Linda telling me that there's blood in the dog's shit.
3:41 - Call the vet and make a 5:00 appointment for the blood shitting dog.
3:45 - Head home to pick up the dog.
4:10 - Get home and greet the family.
4:25 - Get back in the car with the dog to head to the vet which just happens to be down the road from where I work.
4:45 - Get to the vet.
5:45 - Find out that the dog will need to get shots, fluids and have blood drawn because the dog shouldn't be shitting blood. Also find out that the dog won't be ready to be picked up until around 7:00.
5:46 - Get back in the car and head home.
6:05 - Get home and help finish up the kids' bath.
6:15 - Put Abby to bed.
6:20 - Get call from Vet that the dog is ready to come home.
6:21 - Find out what Linda wants for dinner.
6:22 - Get back in the car to go back to the vet.
6:40 - Get to vet and find out that the dog has pancreatitis, possibly caused by stress from the massive thunderstorms we had Saturday and Sunday night.
6:45 - Pay $350 vet bill.
6:46 - Get back in the car with dog and head home.
7:10 - Get dinner.
7:20 - Get home, hopefully for the night.

Sadly, this is the second time in about six months that Henry has had pancreatitis, so we're familiar with the drill and we had the medicated food left over from the last time, thereby saving us 25 bucks. Not that I want anything bad to happen to the dog, but seriously, he either needs to tell his pancreas to get with the program, or see about shuffling off his mortal coil. He has lived a good life, there's no shame in giving up the ghost now. I told Linda that when I get old, if I start shitting all over the house, she can take me in and have me put down and I won't think poorly of her.

Hopefully the dog won't have to go out every couple of hours tonight and we can actually get some sleep. Hopes are high.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

All Binky, All the Time

GameShark is ruled by Mr. Binky today as my latest column is up as well as my review of Secret Agent Clank. The column is a Baldur's Gate 2 story I've had in my head for a couple of years now, I just never put it down on paper. I think it turned out pretty well, and it had all of the beats I intended, so I'm pretty pleased. Plus, I got paid for it, which is something that wouldn't have happened had I written it when it was originally conceived. The Secret Agent Clank review reads better than it did when I first wrote it, without any extra editing, so I'm pleasantly surprised at that one. Sometimes I like stuff when I write it, sometimes I don't. I don't edit my stuff, which can be a good or a bad thing, choosing to ruminate over the piece in my head well before I put it on paper, so when I don't like something, I kind of feel like I don't know what else to do with it, so I just submit it anyway. It's not like I think that the piece is crap, more like a meal that is perfectly edible, you just wish it tasted different, and slightly better.

In other news, Circuit City continued to provide an absolutely shitty retail experience today as I attempted to get rid of the gift card I've been toting around for two months now. I don't know what it is about this store that they feel the need to carry absolutely nothing but their bitter seeds will eventually bear the rancid fruit of bankruptcy and I will dance in the fucking streets when that happens. Seriously, if it weren't for the fact that my not using the gift card would mean money for nothing for them, I'd cut the damn thing up and throw it out. Of course, it would probably show back up in my wallet like some kind of cursed monkey paw, forever chained to my person, but at least the act of cutting it up would be cathartic. I've heard many people complain about Best Buy, but at least when I go there, they actually have things, to, you know, buy. I may not be well versed in a lot of things, but I'm pretty sure me going to a store and being able to buy things sums up the very heart of the retail experience. Anything on top of that is just gravy.